EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 426, Number 2, November I 2004
Page(s) 379 - 385
Section Astrophysical processes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040314

A&A 426, 379-385 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040314

A super massive black hole binary in 3C 66B: Future observational perspectives

F. De Paolis, G. Ingrosso and A. A. Nucita

Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Lecce, and INFN, Sezione di Lecce, Via Arnesano, CP 193, 73100 Lecce, Italy
    e-mail: depaolis@le.infn.it

(Received 23 February 2004 / Accepted 27 June 2004)

Supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) may exist in the centers of galaxies and active galactic nuclei (AGN) and are expected to be fairly common in the Universe as a consequence of merging processes between galaxies. The existence of SMBHBs can be probed by looking for double nuclei in galaxy centers or, more easily, detecting periodic behavior in the observed radio light curves. In a recent paper, Sudou et al. (2003, Science, 300, 1263) announced the first direct observation of an SMBHB. Using VLBI observations they found that the unresolved radio core of the radio galaxy 3C 66B shows a well defined elliptical motion with a period of 1.05  $\pm$ 0.03 yr, implying the presence of a couple of massive black holes in the center of the galaxy. In the present paper we study the astrophysical implications of the existence of such an SMBHB in 3C 66B. In particular we focus on the information that can be obtained from detecting a signal periodicity either in the X-ray and/or $\gamma$-ray light curves as a consequence of the motion of the black holes. These observations could be used to extract further information on the physical parameters of the SMBHB and partially solve the system parameter degeneracy. The detection of the gravitational wave spectrum emitted by such system may be used to completely determine the physical parameters of the binary system.

Key words: gravitation -- black hole physics -- X-ray: general

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